Rhetorical Criticism as an Advanced Literacy Practice: A Report on a Pilot Training

  • Katarzyna Molek-KozakowskaEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


This paper sets out to advance the notion of critical literacy in view of the growing shortage of critical analytic skills even among college students. Critical literacy is defined as a disposition for critical reflection and critical practice. It is employed in the academic context in the systematic interrogation of discursive practices which are sometimes ideologically motivated. Being skilled at critiquing in the advanced EFL context is derivative of a certain general level of critical literacy. It is claimed here that this can be attained through introducing students to categories and procedures of the main rhetorical traditions: neo-Aristotelian rhetoric, the New Rhetoric and Burkean dramatism. Subsequently, the paper reports on a pilot rhetorical training administered to undergraduate students majoring in Cultural and Media Studies at the Institute of English, Opole University, Poland. It describes the main contents of the training, which culminated in students’ applying rhetorical criticism in an analysis of a worthy text of their choice. Students’ proficient applications of diverse rhetorical categories in their final assessment tasks are exemplified and discussed. Even though the majority used simple neo-Aristotelian categories, some combined various rhetorical procedures, including the sophisticated notions of Burkean rhetoric. The results of students’ evaluation of the training are also presented. Students find rhetorical criticism a difficult but rewarding, and, above all, increasingly indispensable skill. Both types of data testify to the usefulness of rhetorical training in the advanced EFL context, particularly in fostering critical literacy skills in a student-centered approach.


Rhetorical criticism Critical literacy Rhetorical training 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Opole UniversityOpolePoland

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